Fast Five: Auburn Press Conference Day

ATHENS - Dean Legge recaps Mark Richt's press conference for the week of the Auburn game.

1. Mark Richt doesn’t want this week to be about the return of Todd Gurley - even though that’s a major national story. The head coach has cut off player and assistant coach availability with the exception of a few Georgia players.

Richt said he wants the focus on Auburn - not Gurley.

“Let’s focus on the game. Let’s focus on Georgia. After the game is over we will go back to normal. I didn’t want the entire week to only be about Todd’s return,” Richt said. “I didn’t want that to be the entire focus of Georgia. We love Todd. We love all of our guys. But I didn’t want it to be the entire focus.”

Still, Auburn is going to have to focus on Gurley. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson had the quote of the week so far when talking about stopping Gurley: “The only guy that stopped him was the autograph guy.”

Ha! Good one.

Georgia has never lost a game in Sanford Stadium in which Todd Gurley has played. The Bulldogs are averaging scoring 44 points per game in Sanford with Gurley in the lineup. They are averaging 26 in Sanford without him.

Gurley makes a pretty big difference - apparently 18 points a game at home.

2. That’s not to say that Nick Chubb - Gurley’s primary replacement over the last four games - has performed poorly. Obviously that’s not the case.

Georgia went 3-1 without Gurley on the road and arrive in Athens still with a shot to win the SEC East. That’s due in no small part to the efforts of Chubb.

“I think Nick Chubb filled in pretty darn good,” Richt said.

No kidding. Chubb is averaging 168 yards a game on the ground. The Dawgs really leaned on him against Missouri (38 carries) and Arkansas (30 carries) in must-win games. It remains to be seen how many carries Chubb will get with Gurley now back at his starting spot, but he’s averaging a whopping 6.7 yards per carry, which is amazing.

Richt said that Gurley will start this week against Auburn, but said that every who is a capable backup should be ready to play.

“Let’s sub as much as we can to keep everyone as fresh as possible,” Richt said.

3. As if Georgia’s rivalry game with Auburn wasn’t enogh, Richt and the Bulldogs will welcome one of the largest and most important recruiting weekends of the year this weekend.

“It is a lot of work,” Richt said. “If you don’t get ahead of it you are going to be in trouble. In some ways (Georgia’s recruiting staff) has had 42 days to get ready for it.”

Richt said he expects a ton of important recruits, and added that the volume of players could be unprecedented during his time at Georgia.

“We’ve got so many unofficial visitors. Maybe more officials than any other one I have been at here at Georgia,” Richt said. “It is going to be a lot to manage. We are taking it in little chunks. We talked about it last week even trying to get organize.”

Georgia will host a slew of players including high-level players such as: Roquan Smith, Jonathan Ledbetter, Trenton Thompson, Josh Sweat, Pat Allen Chuma Edoga and Terry Godwin.

Richt said the level of excitement and enthusiasm at Sanford Stadium is going to be critical for showing those recruits a good time.

“I will say this to our fan base,” Richt said. “The way our fan base loves our team and the environment means a lot to those players.”

4. Last year’s nightmare.

Richt was asked today about his thoughts on if he’s had too many difficult losses through the years, and where the 2013 Auburn game ranked on that list.

“Have I had too many? I’ve had one too many,” Richt said in reference to Auburn’s miracle win last season.

“The games have been mostly close in this series,” Richt said. “There have been some games that have been very meaningful to us when we’ve one. I remember thinking before the 2006 game ‘We are not going to get a first down. This is awful.’ You never know what this game is going to bring. It is one of those true rivalry games.”

That’s true. Georgia and Auburn have really had some thrilling outcomes or endings since Richt took over. Games in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2013 all came down to the final play of the game. The 2006 game was one of the biggest upsets in series history. That happened when unranked Georgia blowout No. 5 Auburn 37-15 on the Plains.

5. Georgia may finally be at full strength on offense.

Its been a long time coming, specifically the entire season, but the Bulldogs are finally fully staffed at receiver and running back. That it is the 10th game of the season seems to be irrelevant to the scoreboard.

The Bulldogs are still leading the SEC in scoring at 43 points a game.

“We may be as healthy as we have been - I don’t know. At the wide receiver we are in a lot better shape,” Richt said.

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